PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- Every Indianapolis Indians batter collected at least one hit led by a 3-for-5 effort by second baseman Shelby Ford, while starting pitcher Ian Snell held the PawSox to just one unearned run in 6.1 innings as the Tribe defeated the Pawtucket Red Sox 9-5 Thursday night at McCoy Stadium.
With the win the Indians improve to 42-49 on the season and 21-26 on the road, while the Red Sox fall to 43-45 overall and 21-22 at home with the loss. With the victory Indianapolis takes a 3-2 season series edge over the PawSox, while the loss is Pawtucket's sixth in-a-row and ninth in their last 10 games.
The Indianapolis offense came out of All-Star break on a tear, scoring a run in each of the first four innings before adding five more in the final two to capture a 9-5 victory. Each Indians' batter collected at least one hit and seven of the nine total hitters turned in a multi-hit performance.
Ford, who entered the contest having not homered since his first game with the Tribe this season back on April 14, belted a solo shot in the fourth and scored in each of the final two innings to post one of his best offense efforts of the year. The Indianapolis infielder also added two doubles later in the game to post his fist three hit game of the season, while joining SS Brian Bixler (2-for-5, 1 R, 1 RBI), LF Lastings Milledge (2-for-3, 1 RBI), C Robinzon Diaz (2-for-6, 2 R, 1 RBI), 1B Steve Pearce (3-for-5, 2 RBI), RF Tagg Bozied (2-for-5, 2 R, 1 RBI) and CF Chris Barnwell (2-for-5, 1 R, 1 RBI) who all turned in multi-hit performances for the Tribe.
With the offense getting the Indians out to an early lead, Tribe hurlers Ian Snell and Mike Koplove held down the Red Sox and helped Indianapolis earn the series opening victory. Snell (6.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, 7 SO) was brilliant yet again for the Tribe as he allowed just one unearned run on two hits in 6.1 innings to lower his ERA to 0.34, while Koplove (1.2 IP, 1 BB) continued to prove he is one of the most clutch relievers in the International League as he got out of a key bases loaded jam in the seventh on his way to his team-best eighth hold of the season.
Indianapolis took the early lead after Bixler led off the game with a single, moved to third on a base hit by Milledge and came plateward on a RBI groundout by Diaz. The run was Bixler's team leading 49th of the season, while the RBI for Diaz was his first for the Tribe since April 14 as he was playing in his first game for the Indians since being optioned from Pittsburgh prior to the All-Star break.
Later after Barnwell extended the Tribe lead with an RBI double in the second, Walker would plate Diaz in the third with an RBI single in what was his first game back with the Tribe after spending just over a month on the disabled list. Ford followed in the fourth with his long ball that extended the Indians' lead to 4-0, before Pawtucket finally got on the scoreboard in bottom of the frame on a walk, a single and a Tribe miscue that allowed LF Paul McAnulty to score,
However, Indianapolis would put the game out of reach with important insurance runs in the final two frames, including three runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth.
Milledge began the scoring in the eighth with a sacrifice fly that brought home Ford, before Pearce capped the frame with a two-run double that brought home both Barnwell and Diaz. The double was one of three hits on the evening for Pearce, who remains red hot for the Tribe having hit safely in each of his last five games and batting .470 (8-for-17) with four runs and eight RBI during the stretch.
Following Pearce's RBI base knock, the Tribe would plate their final two insurance runs in the top of the ninth when Bozied launched his first long ball in an Indians' uniform this season and Bixler brought home Ford with a two-out RBI base hit that gave the Indians a commanding 9-1 lead.
Though the Red Sox would rally with four runs in the bottom of the ninth off Indians' closer Chris Bootcheck (0.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER) it wasn't enough as Tribe reliever Denny Bautista (1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 SO) slammed the door with an inning of scoreless relief to give the Tribe the 9-5 victory.
Pawtucket starter Kris Johnson (5.0 IP, 11 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO) took the loss after allowing four runs and tieing an Indians' opponent season high by surrendering 11 hits to fall to 3-10 on the season.
Indianapolis continues their four-game series with Pawtucket on Friday at 7:05 p.m. LHP Tom Gorzelanny is scheduled to start for the Indians, while RHP Charlie Zink is expected to get the nod for the Red Sox.
The contest will be carried by WXLW-950 AM and www.IndyIndians.com with Howard Kellman and Scott McCauley. The pre-game show begins at 6:45 p.m.
Post-game quotes -- INF Shelby Ford
(on his solo home run in the fourth inning)
"Branson (Indians' hitting coach Jeff Branson) and I talked before the game and he said start zoning up because the first half is over. He told me he still believes in me and I believe I am starting to get my confidence back. I was able to put a good at-bat together and Branson told me that I if I like that first pitch then turn and burn and after he threw me a middle-in fastball I looked up and it was gone."
(on starting fresh after the break)
"A lot of this game is mental and if you get down on yourself it can begin to snowball. Earlier in the year I went through a lot of adversity, began to beat myself up and started to press more than I usually do. But after starting to relax and get back to the basics, hopefully I can continue to turn it around."
(on reliever Mike Koplove)
"He is very valuable. He is Mr. consistency, you can always count on him being around the zone and getting that big out or big roll over double play. He has got good stuff and I am just glad I don't have to face him."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.